England women clinch dramatic EuroHockey title
Hockey

England women clinch dramatic EuroHockey title

30 August 2015 / 18:53

The celebrations are set to go on long into the night after England women came from 2-0 down to beat the Netherlands on penalties and win the EuroHockey Championship for the first time in 24 years.

Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch was the hero, not only keeping her side in the game for much of normal time but also pulling off three saves in the penalty shootout to help England lift the trophy.

They had trailed to two Caia van Maasakker strikes as the world and Olympic champions appeared en route to spoiling the part in front of the English crowd at the Olympic Park.

But the hosts found the net twice in the final quarter thanks to Sophie Bray and Lily Owsley following well-worked penalty corners before successful Helen Richardson-Walsh, Alex Danson and Bray efforts earned a 3-1 penalty win.

Back in 2014, England came within seconds of winning gold at the Commonwealth Games before a late Australian equaliser and subsequent penalty shootout defeat denied them.

But having triumphed this time, captain Kate Richardson-Walsh admitted she couldn’t be happier after finally getting her hands on a rare gold medal.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I’ve wanted my whole career to stand on top of the podium with this team or any team I’ve played in and I wanted to stay in my kit the whole night,” she said.

“Even when we were 2-0 down, there was still plenty of time, there was 15 minutes.

“I knew that we could cut through them and we just had to keep with the belief. Our corners have been slowly getting better at the tournament and if the chances came I knew that we could take them.

“With ten seconds to go, I was like ‘c’mon, don’t be another Commonwealth Games, don’t be another European Championships.’

“We’ve been there so many times but this team is learning how to play out the game.”

A quick look at the stats more than demonstrate England’s battling qualities with the Dutch having 22 shots on goal to England’s seven, and 65 per cent possession compared to the hosts.

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But with Hinch, named goalkeeper of the tournament at the World League semi-finals earlier this year, in defence and player of the tournament Alex Danson marshaling things going forward, they always stood a chance.

“I’m in a state of shock, I don’t know what to believe. It just showed the level of belief in our team at the minute,” said Hinch.

“We were 2-0 down and we were not giving up on it, and we were fighting right until the end.

“I’m renowned for being a bit of a geek on things like the opposition and as soon as it went to a shootout it was my turn to step up and do my part.”

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There was relief for Scotland women too who retained their place among Europe’s elite with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Poland in the final relegation pool match.

Due to Belgium’s 4-3 win over Italy earlier in the day, the Scots needed only to avoid defeat to the Poles but they did it in style with Nikki Kidd and Vikki Bunce both scoring.

"I was happy we managed to stay in the top flight for the second time in a row, especially with a relatively new squad," said Scotland coach Gordon Shepherd. 

"We took the game to the Poles, it was a professional team effort where every player stepped up to the mark."

© Sportsbeat 2015